Final Project 2008 - Rough Cut

:: This is a very early mix of a recording I did for my final Intro to Audio project. Due to gear issues, my microphone setup was pretty basic: the drum kit mic placement consisted of an AKG D112 on kick drum, Sennheiser 441 on snare, and two Electrovoice RE16's on overhead left and right. The RE16's were not my first choice for the overheads; I really wanted some condenser mikes to capture the transients and high frequencies of the cymbals. Fortunately, most of the good sound I got was due to the environment. I had the drums set up on the floor in the orchestra rehearsal room with all the curtains open, resulting in the wide open feel; I also oriented them lengthwise in the room to delay the reverberation even more. I really had no intention of getting this effect, but it worked really well anyway. I just wanted all the musicians to be able to see each other. Just goes to show that every recording has it's own special elements that make it unique and sometime unexpected.

As for the guitar and bass, the musicians didn't have amps, so I used a direct box to plug them straight into the board. I regret that any effects that I put on these instruments will be artificial, but hopefully I can get them to sound as natural as possible, especially the guitar. I realize that the bass is much too loud, and on headphones the spacing between the two instruments is a bit unnerving. More to come next week when I finish editing and mixing ::

UPDATE: There are two versions of this file now available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx


Just A Little Something Extra

:: This eerie snippet was from my very first quarter of Intro to Audio. I recorded some open chords on my guitar, and then simply reversed them. The resulting effect sounds creepily familiar.... If you want to use it for some project of your own, let me know and I'll send you a download link. Have a good Memorial Day weekend ::

UPDATE: File is now only available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx


A Tribute to Grandma Fran

:: For the midterm project in my spring quarter of Intro to Audio, we were assigned the task of recording a "radio drama". Simply put, we needed some dialogue, music, and perhaps sound effects. Many people did interviews, but I had no idea who to go to for something like that. I decided to go with a reading of my Grandma Fran's old children's poems in her memory. The poem "Who Will Play With Me?" seemed perfect; it was littered with animals (perfect for the sound effects) and ambiance (well suited for music).

I had my girlfriend Nadia Aikins read the poem for me since she has a much better voice than I do. It was recorded on the bed in our room with a simple Marantz PDM660 portable recorder and an AudioTechnica lavalier (lapel microphone). The music has guitar, played by myself, and piano played by my classmate Whitney Eden. I actually got the piano pieces by accident; I took a break from playing to get a bite to eat, an apparently I took too long because when I got back in the control room Whitney was in the rehearsal hall jamming away on the piano. I just sat back and listened for a while until it became clear that she was really good. I tried using the XY stereo miking technique to capture the high and low ends on the right and left respectively, but the placement was such that the effect wasn't as dramatic as I'd hoped. Still, I got some really good material to work with.

As for the editing and mixdown, we had just been introduced to the 5.1 surround sound mixing room, so I was really excited to get my hands dirty in there, especially since film sound is what I want to focus on. It was never booked, so I got a lot of time in there. I really needed it too; the room wasn't equipped with ProTools, so I had to learn Digital Performer instead. While I decided to forgo any surround mixing in favor of good old stereo, I learned a lot about this new software an discovered that while it had some flaws, it seemed a lot more intuitive than ProTools and will definitely be more useful as I become more involved in movie audio ::

UPDATE: File is now only available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx


Full-Time Programs

:: This coming fall I'll be getting to know the real Evergreen through it's famously strange 16-credit program system. Basically, instead of several different classes (like math, science, philosophy, etc.) all meeting on different days of the week at different times for four or five credits each, I'll simply enroll in one class for sixteen credits, which is how many hours a week it will be. I'll be with the same people every day at the same hours learning about various subjects instead of just one subject.

My first choice is called "Music, Math, and Motion". The title (as it so often does at Evergreen) describes pretty much what we'll be studying: the relationships between music, math, and motion. If this sounds open-ended or vague, then you're somewhat correct, and that's what they want it to be. It allows for creativity in creating an educational pathway, all done by the students. For instance, I could study the mathematical formulas underlying frequency, pitch, and rhythm and break music down into numbers. Or, I could emphasize the opposite and try to create musical ideas from my own equations...sort of an auditory fractal. If my area of interest was completely different, I could incorporate that as well. For example, if I wanted to be a marine biologist, I could study the mating songs of whales and analyze them for patterns. Basically, this class sounds right up my alley; I'm really good at math, but I've never been able to enjoy it. By combining it with music, I think I'd really be motivated to put my energy into it.

Choice number two is "Mediaworks". Well, actually it's "Mediaworks In Context: Sustainability and Justice", but nobody says the whole name. This quarter is focusing on the previously mentioned themes of sustainability and justice pertaining to the environment. Again, students are encouraged to interpret this however they want and be creative with their projects. I went to the academic fair to see the faculty for this class and be interviewed for it, and it sounds interesting. It's geared more towards film students, but I figured that it's better to be well-rounded with my knowledge, especially if sound design for film is what I want to do.

Third on the list is the "Advanced Audio Production Workshop". While it's the most focused and "normal" of all my choices, it's also only eight credits. This means that I'd have to take some other evening and weekend part-time classes to get my required sixteen credits. Basically, this class continues where I leave off in Intro to Audio. I'll be honing my studio skills, learning more about microphone and speaker design, and studying acoustics in depth. It would really be nice to take this class and have room to study other things too, but I've heard that taking sixteen credits by way of multiple part-time classes instead of one full-time program is intensely hard since the workloads don't really get reduced at all. Still, it's definitely a good choice as far as my future goes, and it's a good fall-back if I don't get into the other two classes ::


My First CD

:: Back in the winter of 2007, I joined the Evergreen Singers to fill my credit requirements for the quarter. The subject for performance was an old American traditional style of music called shape-note singing. It's no different from normal singing with a few exceptions: the songs are only sung in major or minor keys, and the notes on the sheet music are in four different shapes (triangle, square, circle, and diamond) according to their place in the current key, as opposed the familiar system of all circles. Also, this Sacred Harp music (from the most popular songbook that publishes shape-note music) is not really sung for an audience, but rather for personal pleasure. The sections are arranged in a square facing inwards; in the center stands the leader of the current song.

This arrangement actually led me to use a microphone right in the middle of the square. It is not a top-notch recording, especially seeing as ninety percent of the group wasn't really aware of what was going on, but it was definitely a good experience in planning and flexibility. I got a lot of good feedback from my classmates as well...many of them were surprised at the difference between the original recordings and my finished product ::

UPDATE: As well as being available for checkout at TESC's Library, this CD is now available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx


Early Work

:: After getting all the basics under control, this was my first real recording that I did extensive work on. I can't remember the artist's name, but as soon as I find out, I'll update this entry to give him some credit. This was recorded in one session, about an hour of takes, with six different microphones...a real experiment for sure. After recording into ProTools and doing some basic edits, I started playing with the effects plugins. I didn't want to do anything excessive (I'm all about simplicity when it comes to recording), so the most effected sound you'll hear is the voice. I moved it around so that the direct sound came out of one side and the reverb out of the other...simple, but it was fun to play with. If you have a good ear, you can tell that there's no early reflections, so you have no real sense of room space. Anyway, have a listen ::

UPDATE: File is now only available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx